12 augustus 2009

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld

So here we have liberal-minded librarian Alice Lindgren telling the story of her life. She meets and marries boisterous Charlie Blackwell, who loves to make a lot of noise and thinks he’s one hell of a fun Republican. Alice tells about her marriage to this man and their life together, in which Charlie has a career of sorts and Alice is busy being privileged. They actually make it to the White House.
            American Wife is a fictionalised portrayal of Laura Bush, which in my view is not really that interesting. What I did like is the complete unreliability of the first person narrator. I didn’t buy Alice’s story one bit. Oddly, virtually all reviews I read (after reading the book) take what she has to say at face value. Well, that’s okay for them, it doesn’t work for me. Alice keeps polishing up all that’s happening to make herself look sympathetic. She adds the most detailed descriptions of minutiae to distract from her heavily biased version of events. And boy, is she lucky when in the end she just in time manages to escape her final showdown.
            I wouldn’t have liked this book without this twist of the unreliable narrator. It’s good writing and I hugely enjoyed the read. I don’t know if the venom is just in this reader’s eyes or actually drips from the author’s pen.

            Ik schreef hierover dit stukje in het Engels en ben te lui om het te vertalen. Ik sprak een andere lezer die geschokt was dat ik Alice niet op haar woord geloofde (ik had gezegd dat ik Alice een onuitstaanbaar mens en onbetrouwbare verteller vond, zij had juist gaandeweg steeds meer sympathie voor Alice opgevat, tja). Het was in mijn beleving een saai boek geweest zonder deze verdraaiing. En jee zeg, Alice, First Lady, die maar wat babbelt over de kleding van dat of dat merk, het huppeldepup servies etc., onderwijl de boel bedondert en manipuleert en keer op keer zucht over haar luidruchtige echtgenoot, de ruftende president. Hoe kun je haar (en hem) nog serieus nemen?

Geen opmerkingen: